Pesto Pasta with Beans and Greens

The lifestyle indulgences I go in for might seem quirky, I admit.  In some ways I’m frugal: our cars are old, I usually upgrade my wardrobe only when actual holes in my clothing require it, and we’ll probably never update our very-1980’s kitchen.  But other times, I splurge indiscriminately: finding myself in a new grocery bulk section last week, I bought a bag of every unfamiliar dried bean there.

Yellow beans!  Pink beans!  Speckled beans!  Tiny beans!  And more, many more.  I have only one source to blame for this new obsession: Rancho Gordo.   A local shop carries their beans, which have opened my eyes to the wide world beyond black and white beans, familiar pintos and chickpeas.  I have fallen down the dried-bean rabbit hole and I like it here.Pasta with Beans and GreensThat charmer pictured above is Rancho Gordo’s Ojo de Cabra, a meaty beauty of a bean so succulent that I kept plucking them from the bubbling pot despite the peril to my fingertips.  Like all beans, they’re even better the next day, and that’s when I suggest that you make this pasta.

This dish is fine and dandy with drained canned white beans (maybe add a little chopped fresh rosemary in that case), but it is even better as a showcase for an excellent bean if you cook it yourself and use a few scoops of the bean broth to finish cooking your pasta.

Do you have a favorite bean, or an unusual recommendation that I should seek out?  Please tell me!Pesto Pasta With Beans and Greens: Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil.  While you’re waiting, wash a big bunch of chard.  Chop the leaves into wide ribbons and slice the stems thinly.  In a wide pan, saute a sliced onion with the chard stems (set the leaves aside for later) over medium-high heat with a pinch of salt until the onion is golden.  Add a clove or two of chopped garlic and stir for another minute.  Ladle in a few good scoops of cooked beans along with their cooking liquid (if you’re using canned beans, steal some water from the pasta pot instead).

Meanwhile, when the water boils, cook half a pound of your pasta of choice until just shy of al dente, then add the chopped chard leaves for the last minute of cooking.  Drain the pasta and greens and add them to the pan of onions and beans.  Add more bean broth if needed to moisten the pasta.  Taste for salt and season with pepper.

Serve topped with a generous dollop of your favorite basil or parsley pesto.

Variation: Use kale instead of chard (leave the kale stems out–has anyone tried Tamar Adler’s kale stem pesto yet?) and stir in a cup or two of chunky tomato sauce at the very end to warm it through.  Omit the pesto.


22 thoughts on “Pesto Pasta with Beans and Greens

  1. Janet

    Nice to see you! Pasta with beans and greens is one of my all time favorite one-dish dinners. And I definitely know the intoxicating lure of a new legume aisle–an Indian grocery is a dangerous place for me to go, for instance. Thank goodness for mason jars.

  2. Hannah

    Hooray for the bulk bins! I do love beans and now I must get some Ojo de Cabra…they sound marvelous. And as I have a stash of kale stems I will be checking out Tamar Adler’s pesto.

  3. Eileen

    BEANS. Yes. So good and so worth it! I’m kind of afraid to go up to the Ferry Building farmer’s market because I know Rancho Gordo (among other people) will totally be there, with a massive tableful of all the delicious beans in the land…

  4. Hannah

    Love Rancho Gordo. Steve Sando’s book, Heirloom Beans, is a fantastic resource now that your cabinets are all full to bursting with those colorful beauties. I like that this dish is both quick and full of green – I am a bean champ all fall and winter, but come spring my loyalty lags, and by summer I am so not in the mood. This brilliant pairing with pesto just might cure me of that seasonal bias. Thanks Emmy :)

  5. Little Sis

    YUM!!! And you know how we feel about beans. I love lentils for their price and the speed of cooking, but larger beans are nice with pasta to give texture. Lovely!

  6. sweetveg

    Oh my. That looks delicious, Emmy. I have been enjoying the local lentils that have been showing up in the bulk section, but these beans look worth seeking out. Gorgeous. I can’t wait to try them.

    1. Hannah

      You can get them on Amazon or through the Rancho Gordo store if you’re not here in NorCal, where we can get them at the Farmer’s Market ;)

  7. Allison (Spontaneous Tomato)

    I’m the same way! I’m frugal about clothes, my car, everything, except for edible things, kitchen things, and herbs, spices, and condiments that I usually have no idea what I’ll use them for when I buy them. :) This sounds great. We’ve been adding beans to pasta pretty often lately, but mostly just white beans or chickpeas (and then we soak dried pinto beans a few times a month to go with Mexican dinners).

  8. daisy |

    My husband loves all kinds of beans, but I never cook them because I don’t care for them at all. I know he’d like this recipe so I will have to make an exception and make it for him. I’m such a good wife :-).



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